Kwesi Nyantakyi – the good, the bad and the ugly
What an anticlimax! World football governing body, FIFA has slapped a financial fine and a lifetime ban on former GFA boss, Kwesi Nyantakyi. This comes in the wake of the famous or infamous investigative masterpiece by ace journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, captioned Number 12, in which Mr. Nyantakyi is seen to have been culpable of bribery, corruption and conflict of interest.
First and arguably, there is a certain lens with which when the history of Ghana football is viewed, Mr. Nyantakyi can safely be regarded as the best FA chairman we’ve ever had. Exit Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe in December 2005, enter Kwesi Nyantakyi and a certain wind of change blew through our football. He delivered our first ever FIFA World Cup birth at Germany 2006 and everything pointed to a blissful and rosy future. Two consecutive qualifications would follow in 2010 and 2014 in South Africa and Brazil respectively. Although we had mixed fortunes in these tournaments, merely qualifying was worth celebrating.
While attending three World Cups was a huge feat, Mr. Nyantakyi’s cynics thought that we were underwhelming in one thing – winning the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON. Prior to his assumption of office, Ghana had gone 23 years without an AFCON title. They thought it was time we won the title again and not cede our place to other continental giants.
As if the disastrous exit at Egypt 2006 wasn’t enough, our quest to host and win in 2008 was but a dream that didn’t see daylight. Angola 2010 was the nearest we came but our inexperienced team couldn’t stand the Egyptians in the final. Subsequent outings didn’t promise or deliver anything and the AFCON failure has persisted to this day.
Indeed, perhaps more than the AFCON famine, the vast majority of the Ghanaian football populace was irked by the decline of the local league. Truly, under his watch the quality of the league dropped markedly, cascading through to grassroot football. Lower divisions football and colts football were hard hit, promising zero tolerance for short term recovery.
The quality of play in the top flight league was diminishing and match venues recording only a handful of fans. There was nothing to attract fans to the stadium, not even the thought of a special talent to wow them because of massive player exodus. Officiating was becoming unpopular for obvious reasons, sponsorship was becoming rare and TV broadcast was everything but quality. The end result? Our league dropped low in Africa, with our clubs performing abysmally continentally.
So, why had these become the new normal? A popular, perhaps credible reason bandied about was a certain love and affection Mr. Nyantakyi’s FA had for the Black Stars only. They were accused of giving all attention to the senior national team, to the detriment of the domestic league and other national teams. . They succeeded in branding the Black Stars globally with nothing to show, especially in the trophy cabinet.
Everyone who was in touch with Ghana football knew there was something wrong in the corridors of power. What everyone didn’t have was evidence to that effect. Then, like a bolt out of the blue, came Anas Aremeyaw Anas. His video evidence, the Number 12, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was a damning revelation, a career-killing piece of tape.
In it, Mr. Nyantakyi, other FA officials and match officials were caught engaging in acts of bribery, corruption and conflict of interest. However, the former FA chief was the principal actor, dragging government officials into the mix, including Ghana’s president and vice president. Immediately after having been privileged with viewing the tape first, the president ordered for his arrest. Sadly and strangely enough, state security apparatus never found evidence to prosecute him.
But FIFA has. The world football governing body, after a period of study and consultation, has decided to ban Mr. Nyantakyi from all football activities for life and slap him with monetary penalty. It’s a decision he intends to contest at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS, via a statement he’s released. In hindsight, this is a destination not many envisaged. Whatever be the consequence, this is a sad spectacle, a lesson-rich story and an anticlimax.
Yours in the beautiful game